Episode 4.8: Little Green Men

This is practically a required storyline for any Star Trek series: do a time travel episode in the near-modern day, specifically in the past so the viewer knows how history will play out. DS9 decided to frame this as a Ferengi episode, which means it is an introspective look at our modern human condition. It’s an episode intended not take itself too seriously. It’s fun to think of past events having actually involved Star Trek characters. The story gets some of the details of the Roswell incident correct, such as the weather balloon fabrication and the connection to nuclear test monitoring; the real balloon from Roswell was a nuclear test surveillance balloon, hence why it was concealed by the military. One big thing doesn’t match history though. The events of Roswell happened in 1947. The only New Mexico test the United States conducted was the Trinity test during WWII in 1945. After that, the next nuclear test was in 1946, however it was in the Pacific Ocean. The next test in the American West occurred in Nevada in 1951. None were conducted in 1947. So unless there was an unrecorded nuclear test (highly unlikely), the timeline of this episode doesn’t fit history.

The writers do explicitly state one of their allegories: that modern humans are Ferengi in DS9.  They are so Ferengi-like so that even Ferengi are disgusted by them. In Nog’s words, humans of the mid-20th Century are violent, bigoted, stupid, petty, and selfish! We foolishly irradiate our own atmosphere and purchase poison in stores so that we could willingly inhale it. Sadly, I think much of this is accurate at a broad cultural level. Has much changed? Really, the only change is that we explode nuclear weapons nearly never (though we have plenty in case we change our minds). Still plenty of violence (mass shootings recently?), bigotry (do black lives matter to you?), stupidity (should you vaccinate your children?), pettiness (when did you last forgive someone?), and selfishness (should the healthy fund healthcare for the poor and the elderly?). By the end, the soldiers were acting fearful, distrustful, and gullible. Much like Ferengi.

But that commentary aside, I still think the core of this episode was that it was simply intended to be fun. It made me laugh. The humans’ interpretations of the Ferengi’s actions were amusing, as was Quark’s power trip. Quark was completely willing to destroy the future over some profit. Seeing him in the captain’s chair also made me smile.  Nog’s fantastical tale at the end felt like it was pulled straight from a 1940s swashbuckling space opera, complete with Klingon shock troops! Quark is handed a solid loss here by Odo, though he likely got out of any charges due to lack of evidence. And Rom quietly capitalizes on being in charge of the bar for a few weeks. Odo and Quark got a few good exchanges in, which I always enjoy.

Random Thoughts: 1) The scientist’s and the nurse’s assistance of the Ferengi was idealistic and more representative of humans of the 24th Century. 2) The Ferengi Rite of Passage completely fits: an auction of boyhood treasures to have money to head out into the galaxy. 3) Quark’s quote, “All I want is a tall ship…and a load of contraband to fill it with,” is a modification of the quote on the Defiant’s dedication plaque. The actual quote is by John Masefield, “All I want is a tall ship and a star to steer her by.” 4) Mourn is left in charge of the bar! Apparently him drinking profits is cheaper than a Ferengi waiter stealing them. 5) Jake and Nog have a heartfelt goodbye in “the spot.” 6) Sisko’s face is shown as Gabriel Bell, a reference to the events of Past Tense (Ep. 3.11/12). 7) The Ferengi judge human history by the advances in economic systems, not scientific advancements. 8) The Ferengi had to buy warp technology, though from whom is not stated. 9) The opening shot of the 1940s humans have them all smoking copiously. Apt. 10) The Ferengi are actually quite spiritual! This is the first mention of the Ferengi afterlife. 11) Rule of Acquisition 203 is stated! Quark also quotes Rule 62, but doesn’t give the number (The riskier the road, the greater the profit). 12) The sodium pentothal, which is an anesthetic, has no effect on Ferengi. The typical Ferengi trope of not being affected by outside factors. 13) Megan Gallagher, the actor who plays Nurse Garland, also played Mareel in Invasive Procedures (Ep. 2.4).  The writers requested “someone like Megan Gallagher.”  Her agent heard about this, and offered the woman herself for the role.  She also has some good credentials, making her a nice fit as a guest actor on DS9.

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~ by Joshua Black on July 23, 2017.

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